Ricky Durham founded Prescription 4 Love in 2006, inspired by his late brother Keith, who lived with Crohn's disease for 15 years before passing away in 2004. Though he doesn't find it appropriate to be a member of a community he founded, he says he can empathize with his members.
"He was a good-looking boy, and he could find dates, but when do you tell someone you have a colostomy bag? "It's nice to find someone who's going through what you're going through," he says.
People with mental health problems, from chronic depression to schizophrenia, have also benefited from specialized sites.
Jim Leftwich, 39, a college librarian from White Plains, N.
"And let's face it, depending on what [the illness] is, it could very well make you uncompetitive in the larger dating pool." Fortunately, there are a number of alternatives.
A new breed of dating site has emerged to play cupid for people with chronic diseases and disabilities.
Love For Less Niche sites are also a lot less expensive.
"Most of us with this don't wish to spread it." Despite -- or perhaps because of -- the economic downturn, the billion-dollar online dating industry has been booming. More from Health.com: Dating Tips For People With Inflammatory Bowel Disease How To Tell A New Partner A Health Secret 10 Tips For Dating With Depression While sites like and e Harmony don't discriminate, they also don't cater to people like Lana who are coping with sexually transmitted diseases, disabilities, or mental health conditions.
(Access to the site's full features is available for per year.
That's substantially cheaper than sites like and e Harmony, which can cost upwards of per month.) "To me, that's pressure right there," says Robert Watson, the executive director of the nonprofit dating service Date Able, which caters primarily to those with physical and mild psychiatric handicaps.
In addition to providing their users with a more hospitable environment, these websites defuse the tension over how and when to disclose an illness, which is often an issue for people with diseases and disabilities who venture onto mainstream dating sites.
When Health Problems Equal Heartache After some "horrible" results on other dating websites, Lana joined Prescription 4 Love and the STD-specific site
For that fee, members get a more personalized experience, as Date Able is more akin to an old-school matchmaking service.